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Ward vs Kovalev: Predictions from boxing experts

Lee Cleveland Updated
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Tonight, Sergey Kovalev will defend his Light Heavyweight crown against former Olympic gold medalist Andre Ward on HBO PPV.

The eventual winner of the scheduled twelve round contest will more than likely be perceived as the top rated pound for pound fighter in boxing.

So who wins?

Those who predict Ward will be victorious believe he's too skilled and polished for his Russian foe while those who tab Kovalev insist the champion is too strong and relentless for the former United States Olympic Gold Medalist.

Ward vs Kovalev predictions vary for this very intriguing match-up.

Abel Sanchez
Current trainer of Gennady Golovkin / Former trainer of Sergey Kovalev and hall of famer Terry Norris

"I just think Sergey Kovalev is a better fighter," Sanchez told FightHype.com last month. Not a better boxer or technical fighter, but a better pure fighter. Sergey wants to fight, where Andre wants to be cute and be technical, and I think Kovalev will be too big for him."

"I made Kovalev. He was with me for eight fights and eight knock-outs...that style that he's got is my style. John's done some good work with him, but that style came from my gym."

Prediction: Kovalev 

Freddie Roach
Hall of Fame Trainer

"I think he's [Sergey Kovalev] the best light heavyweight in the world," Roach told BoxingScene.com last month. I don't think there is anyone out there that can beat him right now [at 175-pounds] - including Andre Ward."

However, there is a caveat... Roach suggests if Sergey Kovalev does not stop Andre Ward inside the distance, the challenger would likely win on points.

"I think that Kovalev has to stop him to win the fight or else he will get outboxed, because Ward is a great boxer."

Roached added, "A puncher and a boxer, but the puncher has proven that he can box a little bit when he fought Hopkins." 

Prediction: Kovalev by KO ultimately (But Ward if it goes the distance)

Dan Rafael

"This is a 50-50 fight between elite fighters, Rafael wrote on ESPN.com. They're both smart, both have heart and great experience. Kovalev is the superior puncher and a bigger man, but Ward is more skilled with a more diverse arsenal."

Prediction: Ward by Decision

Teddy Atlas
Elite Trainer / Analyst

"Kovalev will win the early rounds with his ability to control distance," Atlas told ESPN.com. Ward will then do what he's done since he was 12: adjust and find a way to win. He will counter some and press some.

Prediction: Ward by split decision

Joe Cortez
Legendary Referee
ESPN Deportes/Noche de Combates

"Kovalev is a fighter who has great power in his punches, and when he connects, you're in trouble," Cortez told ESPN.com. "He has been very active. I feel that Ward, who is an outstanding fighter, can be dangerous as well but has not been that active."

Prediction: Kovalev by TKO in 8

Jorge Eduardo Sanchez
ESPN Deportes

"It is true that at 175 pounds Ward has lost speed, but he is still a master of the ring," Sanchez told ESPN.com. "He has defensive instincts similar to those of Floyd Mayweather, great handling of timing and counterattacks."

"He is a mature fighter, not the same fighter he was at the Super Six Tournament, but with enough boxing skills to prevail on a dangerous but one-dimensional Kovalev."

Prediction: Ward by unanimous decision

Christopher Wirsing
Former amateur boxer
Boxing writer

"Both men will come out boxing, and the fight will be close. These guys are among the best of the best. They have made it to where they are because of their abilities... I can’t see either guy getting dropped by a big shot early in the fight because of a positioning mistake or not paying attention (although anything is possible)."

Both guys know their range and control it well.

Ward has been the 12 round distance on several occasions. He is well prepared to go deep into tough fights and pick up the pace in the second half."

Prediction: Ward via a close decision

Lee Cleveland
Former amateur / Sparring partner 
FightSaga owner

"Conventional wisdom tells us when Andre Ward and Sergey Kovalev fight on November 19, the former will look to use his boxing ability, precision punching and defensive prowess while the latter will attempt to use his aggression, punching power and footwork to effectively trap his elusive opponent and land thudding powershots."

"But conventional wisdom sometimes gets trumped by unconventional reality."

"Like Leonard vs Hearns I, Ward vs Kovalev will showcase a perceived 'reversal of form.'"

"Prior to that legendary bout, conventional wisdom told us that fight would be determined by the speed and boxing prowess of Leonard and the punching power and aggression of Hearns. Conventional wisdom also told us Leonard would have to outbox Hearns to win while the 'Hitman' would have to cut the ring off, impede Sugar Ray's mobility and use his reach advantage to land bombs."

"What happened in that fight surprised us all. Leonard brawled and Hearns boxed."

"Look for this bout to be determined by Sergey Kovalev's boxing ability and Ward's strength, mauling tactics and power."

"Kovalev's jab will be key."

Prediction: Kovalev outboxes Ward, winning a split decision

Please share your Ward vs Kovalev predictions


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